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Job advert providing 14 cleaner roles for non-Muslims illustrates ongoing discrimination in Pakistan


A newspaper advert that clearly allocates Christians and other minorities access to sweeper roles has been condemned by International NGO's. The discriminatory actions of the Government of Punjab resulted in Jim Shannon, Chairman of the All Parliamentary Party for Religious Minorities writing to the Chief Minister of Punjab condemning this latest action.

A copy of MP Jim Shannon's letter can be viewed (click here)

The advert that was printed  in Jaang Newspapers Pakistan in February 2017 lists a number of forthcoming employment vacancies and calls for applicants to respond.

The list is a multi-columned and mutli-rowed table and though most of it is written in urdu, foreign readers can visibly see in the 8th row from the right (as Urdu is read from right to left), that in the 5% quota for Minorities 14 vacancies are guaranteed.  

For those who cannot read Urdu this might look like a positive undertaking by the Government of Punjab, until you read the job titles in the 2nd row from the right.  To the chagrin of Human Rights NGO's the job description next to row number 7 is listed as sweepers.  

Although 1 sweeper role has been assigned to the disabled individuals 3% quota (column 7) and a further 10 to women under their 15% quota (column 9), the largest number of sweeper jobs has been allocated to Non-Muslims at 14.  This places minority candidates in a very unfortunate position of alleged 'positive discrimination' that goes against them.

Despite the percentage of jobs allocated under positive discrimination of women being larger then that of minorities at 15% compared to 5%, women have less of the sweeper roles allocated to them then minorities. Indicating that the quota system is being used to propagate the existing difficulty for Christians to be working within skilled roles within the Punjab Government.

A closer inspection of the table shows an even more insidious aspect as both women and disabled people are afforded a quota of jobs in other categories, but the entire minorities quota for employment is based on the 14 sweeper roles.

Morris Johns, researcher for the All Parliamentary Party Group for Pakistani Minorities, wrote a comment for the BPCA, it said:

"To avoid allocating the required 5% jobs quota to the minorities, the advertisers often add all the vacancies together, e.g. in this case the minorities share of 14 vacancies out of total 271 have all been put in the sweepers column.

"However, the female, disabled and the employees' children quotas have all been divided among various categories. These jobs are not skilled or well-paid jobs.

"They are gardeners, drivers and lab attendants, but the hatred against the minorities is such that they are not given an opportunity to apply even for these lowly paid jobs. Thy want to confine the minorities to just one occupation."

An editorial message in Newspaper Pakistan Today on Januray 19th 2017, read as follows:

"The decision by the Punjab government to allocate 5 per cent mandatory quota in government jobs for minorities is commendable because not only the constitution of Pakistan but our great religion Islam also give non-Muslim minorities certain rights and privileges.

Since Islam seeks to establish such a society where all citizens of the state enjoy equal rights and religion does not become the basis for any discrimination therefore, it is hoped that the government would remain sincere in its efforts to promote and protect the rights of minorities and consider them as humans as well. Only words will not do anything until they are followed by actions."  

You can read the full message (click here)

Article 27 of the Pakistan Constitution, states: 

27. Safeguard against discrimination in services.
(1) No citizen otherwise qualified for appointment in the service of Pakistan shall be discriminated against in respect of any such appointment on the ground only of race, religion, caste, sex, residence or place of birth:
Provided that, for a period not exceeding 34[forty] 34years from the commencing day, posts may be reserved for persons belonging to any class or area to secure their adequate representation in the service of Pakistan:

Provided further that, in the interest of the said service, specified posts or services may be reserved for members of either sex if such posts or services entail the performance of duties and functions which cannot be adequately performed by members of the other sex 36[:] 36

37[Provided also that under-representation of any class or area in the service of Pakistan may be redressed in such manner as may be determined by an Act of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament).] 37

(2) Nothing in clause (1) shall prevent any Provincial Government, or any local or other authority in a Province, from prescribing, in relation to any post or class of service under that Government or authority, conditions as to residence in the Province. for a period not exceeding three years, prior to appointment under that Government or authority
For all intents and purposes the Punjab Government may argue that the Article 27 is being met as the rest of the job roles could be applied for by Minorities. Moreover they might add that to address the balance of a lack of Minority applications they have offered 14 sweeper roles to Minorities who are often the most illiterate class.  However by way of the fact that the qualifications required for cleaners are identical to five other roles listed in the advertisement (column 11), this argument falls flat on it's face.  Coupled with the fact that both the women's quota and the quota for disabled people have a more scattered opportunity list throughout all the vacancies, indicates that Minorities have a lower societal worth and are clearly being discriminated against.  Surely this is in breach of Article 17.

Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:

"It seems that as a group we constantly report on the abuse of the much vaunted minorities quota a plan that was always doomed to failure. (click here) and  (click here)

"The 'scheme' was ostensibly initiated to create fairer employment opportunities for minorities applying for provincial government vacancies, but has repeatedly been used to direct minorities towards sweeper roles.

"This open disdain for minorities cannot be perceived to be anything but perpetuation of minority pariah status by a government institution.  Quite frankly Christians and other minorities are openly treated like second-class citizens.

"One of the reasons that Pakistan adopted the Minority quota system was to justify foreign aid funding received from western nations. Perhaps it is now time for nations such as Britain and America to revoke funding until a more robust attempt to improve the lives of beleaguered minorities manifests.

"Minorities are amongst the poorest and most deprived peoples of Pakistan. Actions such as this whimsical quota mechanism only serve to maintain the status quo and vulnerability of Minorities."


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